“There’s A Sucker Born Every Minute”

This quote is usually attributed to P.T. Barnum….or WC Fields. But the first person to utter these words of solid business advice was George Hull. Who?

George Hull was a devout atheist who lived in Binghamton, New York in the 1860’s. One night he got into a heated argument with a fundamentalist preacher about ‘how literal is the Bible?’  Preacher said, “every single word.” Hull thought “sucker” and came up with a scheme that would eventually bring jealous tears to the eyes of old P.T. himself.

Hull knew the Book of Genesis talked about “giants roaming the earth.” Believers were always looking for Biblical “proof.” So Hull decided to give them “proof” – for a small fee, of course.

In 1868, Hull commissioned a stone carver to sculpt a 10-foot, 5-inch “fossilized giant” for $2600.  Next, Hull buried his masterpiece at a friend’s farm in Cardiff, NY.  A year later, workers were hired to dig a well on the farm.  Instead, they “discovered” the giant.

Naturally, geologists immediately denounced the giant as a ridiculous fraud but, as Hull had guessed, fervent fundamentalists “swore” it was real – “just look at the Bible!” Hull started charging the faithful 50-cents a peek and quickly made a lot of money.

P.T. “Egress” Barnum knew a good fraud when he saw one and offered to buy the Cardiff Giant.  George Hull said “no thanks.”  And then, in what has to be one one of the funniest footnotes in American history, Barnum HAD HIS OWN CARDIFF GIANT CARVED and exhibited it across the country.  In other words, Barnum was making money from a fake of a fake!

Today the giant rests peaceably in the Farmers Museum in Cooperstown, New York.  Not surprisingly, you have to pay an additional fee to see it – just like in the old days.  However, there’s no truth to the rumors that the giant is wrapped in the Shroud of Turin or the snack bar sells “Jesus-Face Tacos” for a buck and a half.


One Response to ““There’s A Sucker Born Every Minute””

  1. Joseph Belle-Isle says:

    The Cardiff Giant was REAL! It was Barnums fake that caused all the hullabaloo. Originally burried in a tar coated cedar like casket coverring Cedar chips protected the original Shroud of Turin” and the one Barnum put on HIS is the one scientists have proclaimed to be fake. And YES-miraculously tacos sold at the snack bar do have the face of Jesus on them BUT OBLY when a chef, directly related Joan of Arc cooks there. Joan of ARC also had a virgin birth. virtualy ALL of her lesbian daughters were virgins and stayed that way. And ALL of THEIR lesbian daughters were virgins.

Leave a Reply